Lawyer and Former Assistant Convicted for Preparing Fraudulent Alien Legalization Applications
Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced that a federal jury in Brooklyn today returned verdicts finding Thomas Archer, a lawyer based in Coram, New York, and his former assistant, Rukhsana Rafique, guilty of visa fraud and conspiring to do the same. When sentenced by United States District Judge Sterling Johnson Jr., the defendants will face a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment on each count of visa fraud and five years’ imprisonment on the conspiracy count.
The evidence at trial established that between 2004 and 2005, Archer submitted false legalization applications on behalf of more than 230 illegal immigrants to the Department of Homeland Security. The defendants charged each client $1,500 to $2,500 for their services, yet not a single application filed by the defendants was granted. At trial, four of Archer’s former clients, natives of Pakistan and Guyana, testified that they did not meet the requirements for the legalization program, but that Rafique nonetheless prepared application forms for them. Rafique also directed the clients to obtain signatures on fraudulent affidavits, which Archer submitted to the Department of Homeland Security in support of the fraudulent applications. When the Department of Homeland Security invited the clients to attend interviews to discuss their applications, Archer and Rafique directed their clients not to attend and withdrew their applications.
“The defendants abused the immigration system and in the process took advantage of clients who trusted them,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “Those who engage in such criminal conduct will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted.” Mr. Campbell expressed his grateful appreciation to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for their investigative work and assistance during the trial.
“Archer and Rafique preyed on the insecurities and fears of the people they were supposed to help, said James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in New York. “ICE’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force will continue to target unscrupulous attorneys who defraud the government and the public to line their pockets.”
“The United States offers many benefits for eligible legal immigrants,” said Andrea Quarantillo, New York District Director for USCIS. “USCIS officers strive to protect our immigration system from those who attempt to abuse it and will continue to work with law enforcement agencies to detect and dismantle immigration fraud.”
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew E. Goldsmith and Soumya Dayananda.
RUKHSANA RAFIQUE, also known as “Rukhsana Rukhsana”
The Department of Justice believes that it is important to keep victims/witnesses of federal crime informed of court proceedings and what services may be available to assist you.